As an institution dedicated to learning, it is vital that Winona State University have the courage to grapple with the big challenges facing the world today. We are a long way from West Africa, but what can Winona State do to assist with the Ebola crisis? Ferguson, Missouri, is a lot closer to Winona—in more ways than one—so what can we learn from their experience? What are we doing to ensure that our campus and our community are safe and welcoming to all? How can we end Gender Based Violence? One thing that has made Winona State distinctive through the years is that we don’t aspire to be an ivory tower removed from the world. From our very beginnings we have engaged with the challenges of the day, connecting them to the eternal verities and the search for truth. “In vita, veritas” as it were! At Winona State, we can be both lofty and relevant, a beacon of light rather than a tower of ivory. The big eternal questions help us address the big contemporary challenges, just as the big challenges of today compel us to ask even bigger questions tomorrow.
When I consider the many challenges facing higher education today, it is a blessing that Winona State University continues to prosper. This is no coincidence; it’s the fruits of our labor. Our budget is balanced, our academic standards are high, tuition is frozen, and we are capturing additional market share of the available student population. We are recognized nationally as one of the best public universities in the Midwest—with additional accolades for our educational technology, sustainability, community service, and service to veterans. Fundraising last year was at its highest level since the year that concluded our capital campaign. For all these reasons and so many more, Winona State is in great shape. A sustainable place … a place that asks the big questions and tackles the big challenges … a place with big projects underway and bigger dreams down the road. One hundred fifty-six years? We’re just getting started!